Definitely good snack foods, easy microwave recipes, on-the-go drink mixes, and the like. I'll be a senior this year and every year it seems I discover something new that would've been really useful to have...
If he's going from a warm-weather climate to one with colder weather, definitely leave him with some appropriate stuff -- a cool hat, gloves/mittens, a scarf. I was in this same situation and had to buy a new coat, gloves, boots, and a hat midway through my first year :-/
If he's the type (some guys aren't), maybe a journal or some such? Or paper, envelopes, and stamps so he can write home. On the reverse, some of the best gifts I've gotten while away at school were cards from my family --occasion cards, but also everyday encouragement and "We Miss You!" types. My mom would write me a short note on the inside and then have my younger siblings sign it, and sometimes my brothers drew pictures for me and they sent them along with it. Emails and phone calls are great, but nothing beats a little surprise like that in the mail. I papered my bulletin board with those cards, and they were good little reminders of the love and support I had behind me.
I'd definitely say rest it for a bit, especially since it's happening to a targeted area repetitively. Ice is good, and also alternating short periods of ice with short periods of warm heat. Since I write and craft, my hands and elbows get abused, but so far I've been able to avoid a real case of tendonitis or a repetitive strain injury by forcing myself to do that and rest if the pain won't go away with stretching or position changes.
I've always found it interesting that crocheters tend to have pain more in the hand NOT holding the hook...hmm...
Headbands are great, especially summer ones. Small embellishments to go on them, too...or you could mix and match the colors to make cell phone cozies, change purses, slippers, little baby items, maybe a little girl's purse or similiar?
Or hotpads to go with the dishcloth/potholder sets...you know, the things you put on the table to keep hot dishes from scorching tablecloths or wood.
How awesome The journals look great and I hope they get wonderful use. Writing can be intensely therapeutic and so can the simple act of creating something. Kids and adults with emotional and psychological issues can benefit from having a place to record their thoughts, struggles, triumphs, whatever.
I hope your efforts help; and the journals look absolutely fabulous
I'm the last one to ask for advice about cutting back...I just bought three new skeins last night
But I recommend finishing the projects you've already started/planned, even if it means buying a bit of extra yarn. It always feels good to finish a project that's been on the "to make" list for a while.
My favorite stash-busting projects are scarves, baby blankets, and potholders. For smaller rolls of scrap yarn, I make headbands, flowers (that I sew to the headbands), baby booties, and so on.
Bath poofs also take up a lot more yarn than you'd expect, and they're good for the plain old acrylic stuff since it seems to lather pretty well.